HIAS Past Meetings, 2015-2019

Below are brief summaries of previous HIAS meetings from January 2015.









January 5th, Haslar's half-mile of history

For the start of the New Year, we were pleased to welcome back David Henshaw to talk to us on "Haslar's half-mile of history". With its shallow draught, Haslar Creek adjacent to Portsmouth Dockyard was chosen in the 19th Century to maintain a fleet of wooden gunboats to protect Britain's ever expanding industrial interests. From 1886 Haslar was also the site of the Admiralty's covered testing tank originally designed by William Froude in 1868. The latest proposal for the site is to create a centre for the preservation of Haslar's historic naval heritage making Haslar a "Heritage hotspot" in the area. Although dwarfed by Portsmouth in publicity and money spent, Haslar also had an important part to play in our naval history.


February 2nd, What's in the Pantry?

Jenny Carter brought two baskets containing items which could be found "in the pantry". Apparently the pantry was where dry products were stored and a larder was for hanging meat. She began her talk by saying that, in the "old days", people grew their own food but those living near ports could buy a better range of imported products. When the industrial revolution came along and tins were manufactured from 1810, many more food items could be stored. Jenny explained the background to many famous products like Heinz '57' varieties, HP sauce, Bird's Custard (1837), Oxo cubes, Horlicks and Huntley & Palmer biscuits. One revelation was that tea bags began by accident in New York when a sample of tea was sent in a muslin bag. It was a fascinating talk which explained where many of our packaged foodstuffs originated.


March 2nd, Industrial Archaeology in Polar Regions

For our March talk we were pleased to have two of our own HIAS members, Angela & Nigel Smith talking to us on "Industrial Archaeology in Polar Regions".   Angela began with the North Pole and Nigel followed with the South Pole.    Both regions are rich in historic industrial archaeology with the most northerly post office being situated in Ny-Ålesund, as well as Roald Amundsen's Memorial.      Nigel's talk was primarily about the once thriving whaling industry and associated buildings and equipment in the Falklands, as well as other I.A relics, and a picture of Ernest Shackleton's grave.    Aptly, Angela started with a picture of a polar bear and Nigel finished with a picture of a Chinstrap penguin.


April 13th, Miscellaneous

Unfortunately, Tony Yoward was unable to give April's talk, so our President, Bill White, kindly stepped in and entertained us with an evening of  "Miscellaneous".   We looked at various old photos of Southampton dating from the 1860s, a film made by Southern Railway during WW2 showing troops travelling from Waterloo to Southampton Terminus Station, which also included film of some of the  small ships coming back from Dunkirk carrying BEF troops.    Bill ended his miscellany with an American film showing the restoration works being carried out of an old  locomotive.


May 11th, Forgotten Wrecks of WW1

For May's talk we welcomed back Stephen Fisher who, if you remember, talked to us back in February 2013 on Providing access to Hampshire's Heritage [PATHH].  This time Stephen's talk was on "Forgotten Wrecks of WW1".    Stephen is the Forgotten Wrecks project's Research Officer with a long standing interest in military history.   Stephen began with a brief history of how early on in the conflict, Germany began by attacking our trade routes with constant battles between the German Navy and the British.  It was also early on in the war in 1914 that the German Navy inflicted the first defeat for 100 years on the Royal Navy.  Stephen said that this project is very important as often the only surviving examples of a particular type of ship are those lying on the seabed.   It was a fascinating and informative talk, as I am sure most of us were totally unaware of the amount of sea battles which took place during this time, as the focus is usually on the major battles fought on the Western Front.


June 1st, Village Life in the 40s & 50s

Our June speaker was John Pitman on "Village Life in the 40s & 50s".  John based his talk on his own recollections and experiences growing up in Headbourne Worthy which, at the time, was just a small village on the outskirts of Winchester.  John's memories were rich and varied reflecting the way most village people lived including growing their own vegetables, an outside toilet, a bathing  in front of the fire, the water having been heated via a copper boiler, his mother cooking on a blackened range, and of course, the war and rationing.   The radio was quite important and John was quite nostalgic about the programmes he used to listen to.  John's talk was slightly unsettling in that most of us present could remember many of these things as well!


July 6th, Impromptu Evening

Unfortunately, our July speaker was unable to come and talk to us, but, fortunately, our Chairman, Howard Sprenger, and HIAS members Ray Riley, Andy & Rob Fish provided the evening's entertainment. Howard began with "Manchester & Salford - a tale of 2 Cites", Ray Riley spoke on social change since the 1950s and Andy & Rob Fish provided nine short DVDs on a variety of industrial archaeology topics. We hope to have the Purbeck Clay Mining Industry talk next year, but were very grateful to have been well entertained by our "in house" substitutes, especially at such short notice.


August 3rd, Alexandra Palace

We had a very good turnout for our August meeting and were pleased to see some new faces as well as old.   Our speaker was Peter Keat, whom we were pleased to welcome back to talk to us about "Alexandra Palace" situated in North London and referred to as "The People's Palace".    Peter's talk was in the form of a DVD presentation titled "A Palace for the People" a local history video tracing the story of the Palace & Park from 1873, and then rebuilt in 1875 following a destructive fire, to its second fire in 1980.   Supposedly nicknamed "Ally Pally" by Gracie Fields, it has had a chequered history having been used for a variety of uses, from entertainment to housing prisoners and internees during the two world wars.   The BBC broadcast from there for many years, with its familiar mast still in use.   The Palace became a Listed Building in 1996.


September 7th, Members' Evening

Our September meeting was our traditional "Members' Evening" which included Nigel Smith talking to us about the restoration of the Bugsworth Canal Basin in North Derbyshire, Keith Andrews with a selection of pictures taken around Scotland based on Gillian Nelson's book "Highland Bridges", Ivan Downer reminiscing on "Wrecks I have Sailed" about his time spent at sea, and finally Martin Gregory on a brief update on the progress that has been made this year on the Babcock & Wilcox boilers at Twyford Waterworks. 


October 5th, Looking at Lime Kilns

We were pleased to welcome along one of our regular contributors to our October meeting, Dr Peter Stanier.   Peter's talk concentrated mainly on lime kilns in Dorset, where he has been studying and photographing them since the 1970s.   After a brief history of the limekiln industry and a short chemistry lesson, we looked at numerous photographs taken by Peter not just of Dorset limekilns, but some in other parts of the country.  We also saw some paintings of limekilns by J M W Turner, who also thought them interesting and attractive enough to capture on canvas.   The extensive use of lime and the development of kilns has been attributed to the Romans, as there is no evidence of limekilns before the Roman period.  As usual, Peter's talk was very interesting and illuminating and said that not enough fuss is being made about preserving them, but it is well worth recording what is left today, as could be gone by tomorrow.


November 2nd,  AGM and Romsey Signal Box

Our November meeting was the AGM, and although attendance numbers are usually down, we had about 36 members turn up.  After the AGM and the tea/coffee break, our Chairman, Howard Sprenger, kindly gave us a talk and up-date on the renovation and re-opening of the Romsey Signal Box.   Dating from about 1895 it represents a very early London & South Western Railway Signal Box situated on the Eastleigh to Salisbury Line, although no longer connected to the mainline.  It was moved, when decommissioned 33 years ago, to the grounds of the Romsey Infant School [no longer there] but now stands close to a new housing estate.     It was subsequently purchased by the Romsey & District Buildings Preservation Trust for a nominal £10.   After extensive renovation work, it was re-opened on the 6th September this year, and is open to the public the first Sunday in each month except January.   

For further information please go to http://www.romseysignalbox.org.uk/


December 7th,  Technology in the home 1800s - 1920s

For our December meeting we were pleased to have one of our own members, Dr Martin Gregory, speaking to us on "Technology in the home 1800s - 1920s".   Martin said that this talk expanded on from his last talk to us on apple peelers, to technology in the home.  We looked at various early kitchen appliances including ranges, washing machines, dryers and irons, as well as smaller items including a knife polisher, coffee grinder and a marmalade cutter.   Lighting and heating included both early examples of gas and electricity, including a 1908 petrol gas appliance - petrol was available from the 1900s, and carbon filament electric lamps for battery operation from the 1890s.  As it was the last meeting of the year, mince pies were available alongside the usual tea & coffee.



January 4th, The Rise of the Railway

The first talk of 2016 was on the 4th January and saw a good turnout of members looking forward to hearing Chris Humby talk to us on the "Rise of the Railway Part 2" which turned out to be a history of the Eastleigh Railway Works and its impact on the town of Eastleigh. Chris is a member of the Bishopstoke History Society, a small group of enthusiasts, and has close connections with the town, with various relatives having worked on the Railway.


February 1, Ambulance Trains & Hospital Ships

February's speaker was Andy Skinner, SeaCity Museum's Learning Officer.   Andy's talk was titled "Uncle Albert's WW1 Diary - Ambulance, Trains & Hospital Ships" and was based on the diaries of his Great Great Uncle Albert Parker Dartnell, which were discovered after his death.  Albert was only 17 when he enlisted having lied about his age, 18 being the minimum.    Being short sighted he was sent as an RAMC  orderly to No 15 Ambulance Train, which had nine carriages and on board surgical wards with essential medical supplies.  By 1916, after completing 167 train journeys out of Southampton, Uncle Albert was sent to sea, and joined the hospital ship HMS St George with 60 beds.   He was now going into more dangerous waters, especially as the Germans started to target hospital ships saying they were fair game, believing them to be carrying weapons as well as the wounded.    By the end of the war, a total of 12 hospital ships had been sunk.    Uncle Albert was sent to Egypt at the end of 1917, and then to France where he was gassed and wounded, but lived until 1987.   It was a great story and we were very grateful for Andy for coming along and sharing his Great Great Uncle's first world war experiences with us.


April 4, Gordon-Keeble, Hampshire's only supercar

After March's mix-up, we were pleased to welcome along Mike Webster to tell us all about "Gordon-Kemble, Hampshire's very own Supercar". Remarkably, only 99 of these iconic cars were made between 1964-1967 with Mike owning chassis number 96.  All 99 were of the same design and each one known by their chassis number.  John Gordon & Jim Keeble were veterans of the Second World War, Jim Keeble having flown Spitfires.  Born in Suffolk, and well educated, his mother was from Southampton.  John Gordon was MD of "Peerless Cars". They got together in 1959 and produced the "Gordon GT".  In 1964 a hanger at Eastleigh Airport, now known as Southampton Airport was used to start work on the first Gordon-Keeble Car, which they hoped would rival the best GTs in Europe.  The cost of a GK car was around £3,600 but unfortunately by 1965, the Company was declared bankrupt.    Production did continue under new management, but the last GK Car was built in 1967.  However, there is now a thriving GK Owners' Club who celebrated 50 years of production in 2014 with the largest number of surviving Gordon-Keeble Cars ever assembled in one place.


May 9, Forton Lake & its Boat Shipyards

The HIAS talk on May 9th was on "Forton Lake & its Boat Shipyards" and was given by Commander Martin Marks, OBE, Royal Navy.   After a brief history of Forton Lake and its connections to both Gosport & Portsmouth, Martin's illustrated talk was on some of the shipyards that were situated there from the 18th Century.    As ships got bigger, the shipyards were used less and less and the Maritime Workshop is now used for restoration purposes for heritage ships such as Warrior and the Cutty Sark etc.   The Lake is now littered with wrecks which is of interest to the marine archaeologists who have been awarded a grant to carry out research and to record Forton Lake's heritage together with hearing from local people to learn as much as they can on the shipyard sites and their history.


June 6, The Swash Channel Wreck

Our speaker for our June meeting was retired Archaeologist Gordon Le Pard who kindly came along to tell us all about "The Swash Channel Wreck" an early 17th Century, possibly Dutch, armed merchantman, first located in March 1990 when dredging was being carried out at the entrance to Poole Harbour, when a cannon and some substantial timbers were brought to the surface. The cannon, amongst more than 1,000 artefacts have so far been recovered from the wreck by a team from Bournemouth University, and are now in Poole Museum. Archaeological evidence now suggests the ship, of which there is still a lot of mystery surrounding its origins and purpose, dates from about 1628 was a substantial armed merchant ship bound for the tropics.

July 6, Airfields of the New Forest

July's meeting was on the "Airfields of the New Forest" given by John Levesley, who informed us that he has been giving these talks for over 40 years now.     John begun his talk in 1910 with a brief history of early aviation in the New Forest and the Isle of Wight including such personalities as Tommy Sopwith and his test pilot and designer, the Australian, Harry Hawker.    By the 1930s there was a network of New Forest Airfields, but it was during the height of the Second World War that these airfields were expanded and added to numbering no less than 12 plus a few Advanced landing Grounds.   Little remains today of the extraordinary events which went on in the New Forest during that time, so we were grateful to John for coming along and giving us a detailed account of the huge contribution played by the New Forest Airfields to the war effort.


August 1, Two Tall Ships - Lord Nelson & Tenacious

August's talk was from two members of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, Glenn & Maureen Middleton. The Jubilee Trust was started in 1978 "around the time of the Independent Living Movement" whose aim is to "challenge & change perceptions of disability and ability in everyone". Glenn mostly concentrated his talk on the construction of the two ships, Tenacious & the Lord Nelson, but mainly on Tenacious, which along with Lord Nelson, was commissioned by the Trust specifically for disabled people. Taking us through the construction process starting with the search for a naval architect who was able to design a square rig sailing ship to September 2000, when Tenacious sailed to Sark, St Helier & Weymouth on her maiden voyage. A very interesting talk, especially as most of us had never heard of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, and anyone who would like to learn more about it, or is interested in being a volunteer, please go to www.jst.org.uk for further information.


September 5, Social impact of the railways

September's meeting was on the "Social Impact of Railways", and was given by one of our members, Professor Ray Riley, who ran through a number of areas in life that had been influenced by the development of railways.  He started with language, where idioms such as "off the rails" found their way into everyday use.  Next, he moved onto time, and described how "London Time" became "Railway Time" and thence "National Time".  Plymouth, for example, was 20 minutes behind London, and until railway time was adopted, the train guard had to adjust his timepiece as the train went along.  Times such as "twenty to twelve" were not written as "11.40" until Bradshaw issued the first edition of his famous timetables.  Other topics covered were: Diet, Retailing, Holidays, Housing and commuting, Excursions, Social displacement,  Hotels, Architecture,  Railway Works, Newspapers, Bookstalls, Post and Moral decline.


October 3, Wessex Brewing & Malting

As always, we were delighted to welcome back Dr Peter Stanier to our October's meeting to tell us all about malting & brewing in Wessex.    Before proceeding with his talk, Peter attempted to brew some beer by putting crushed malt, hops and some yeast in a glass and adding warm water.   This he put to one side stirring occasionally throughout his talk, which was most interesting and informative.  When Peter's  talk finished, it was time to check on the beer, which I must say looked pretty good from the back of the room having a good head on it, and looking like a glass of beer, although I am not sure that anyone actually had the nerve to sample it!   It was a good end to yet another entertaining talk from one of our favourite speakers.


November 7,  AGM and films

We have our AGM in November together with our photographic competition.   As usual, the standard was very high, and we had some good entries.  First prize was won by  Ruth Andrews for her photo of  Millstones at Stanage Edge in Derbyshire.   Second prize went to was Tony Yoward for the Wuppertal Schwebebahn in Germany and third prize to Keith Andrews for the Peat Railway [in County Offaly].  Rob Fish then entertained us with a profile of Francis Frith, the famous Victorian photographer, and we were then shown three films written and devised by Edwin Course, who sadly died earlier this year aged 93.   To end off the evening, Bill White told us about Andre, a French onion seller, who has been coming to Hythe for many years, and by Bill's reckoning, has probably spent half his life selling his bunches of onions to the good folk of Hythe.


December 5, Toys

Our December meeting was aptly titled "Toys", and the speaker was our President, Bill White.   Bill brought in a selection of his toys, some of which he has had since 1935, and still in very good condition.   These included a Hornby Train set, a Sindy doll, as well as some Tri-ang toys.   Further afield, we looked at the sort of toys that were being made in Germany just after the war including a working model of a brewery and toy trains.   Bill ended his talk by showing us some slides of early, now very famous Steiff Teddy Bears, accompanied by a short biography of Margarete Steiff who started the Company.   It was a good topic for this time of year, and a nice trip down memory lane, remembering the sort of toys we played with as kids. 



January 9, Victorian-style Music Entertainment

Our first meeting of 2017 was on January 9th.  We were pleased to welcome along Peter Trodd to tell us all about "Victorian-style Music Entertainment", which concentrated on the various mechanical music devices built in Victorian times. To accompany his talk, Peter brought along a selection of machines from his collection that he began 20 years ago with the purchase of a disc operated music box circa 1900, which he painstakingly restored. Beginning with a brief history of music making from 400 BC with early examples of making sounds through pipes,  we looked at the c1392 Wells Cathedral's clock and Salisbury Cathedral's mechanical clock, which is claimed to be the oldest working clock in the world.   A short history of cylinder music boxes followed, interspersed with examples of music from Peter's own musical boxes.  The cylinders were normally made of metal and powered by a spring.    Towards the end of the 19th century, models such as the Polyphon were being mass produced and using interchangeable metal discs instead of cylinders.    Around this time there was also a growth in mobile piano players, often called barrel organs, which, unfortunately, often added to the general din of city life. A brief description and example of the cylinder phonograph followed created by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. By 1905, the industry was turning out about 110,000 cylinders a week.  Peter ended his very interesting talk on "Nipper" (1884-1895), the iconic mascot pictured in front of a cylinder phonograph and used on HMV recordings.  


February 6, Flying Boats in Southampton

Once again we were very glad that Colin van Geffen was able to come along to  February's meeting and talk to us about "Flying Boats of Southampton - Ships of the Sky".  Colin took us through the golden years of the commercial flying boat era, which barely spanned sixty years.  Colin also talked about aviation innovators including R J Mitchell and Thomas Sopwith and his Sopwith Flying Bat Boats designed and built from 1912-1914.   Looking at Colin's numerous photographs of these flying machines, we could not help being impressed by the luxuriousness of these early passenger planes, plus the distances they flew, as well as the time taken to complete their journeys owing to frequent refuelling stops.     It was a good talk, and we were pleased to see some new faces in the audience who had come along specially for Colin's talk, and we hope that they had such an enjoyable evening that they may consider becoming HIAS members.


March 6,  Art Deco Buildings in Southampton

We were pleased to welcome Dr Andy Russel to our March meeting to talk to us about "Art Deco" buildings in Southampton.    Andy has been Southampton City Council's Archaeologist since 1986 looking after their ancient monuments, or anything else that is "crumbling".   The term "Art Deco" was apparently not used until the 1960s to describe this type of architecture, as when first introduced the term "Modern" or "Moderne" was adopted, with ideas taken from many cultures.   Ocean Terminal and Southampton Civic Centre are the two grandest "Art Deco" buildings in the City, but we looked at many more including residential housing, cinemas, retail units, and the iconic shelter on Western Shore, recently saved with the help from the National Lottery.    We were pleased to see some new faces from other local historical groups, who came along especially to hear Andy's illuminating talk on the subject of  "Art Deco" design.


April 3, Quaker Businesses in Britain

For April's talk we were pleased to welcome along John Avery to tell us all about "Quaker Businesses in Britain".   Founded by George Fox in the 1650s the Quaker ethos of "Peace, Equality, Simplicity & Truth" found its way into many walks of life, and from the early 19th Century the Quakers established an impressive amount of well-known business including Barclays & Lloyds Banks, Clarks Shoes [still owned by Clarks today] and Bryant & May Matches.   However, it was the Quaker confectionery business which conquered the British sweetshop with such names as Cadburys, Rowntrees, Frys & Terrys which are still famous today.     The biscuit bands such as  Huntley & Palmers and Carrs are also very familiar to us.    John also touched upon the Quaker connection with the early Railways talking about the Stockton to Darlington Line, which subsequently become known as the "Quaker Line", as well as their interest in science with the Darbys of Coalbrookdale who were devout Quakers.    John also mentioned the John Lewis Partnership and in particular John Spedan Lewis [1885-1963] who was influenced by the Quaker business ethos, and put his employees at the heart of everything he did including introducing a profit sharing scheme


May 8, The Gunwharf Area of Portsmouth

Our talk in May was "The Gunwharf Area of Portsmouth" by Michael Underwood, who was project architect for most of the historic buildings at Gunwharf Quays when the area was redeveloped at the end of the 20th century.  The Gunwharf's history began more than 300 years ago when land was reclaimed from Portsmouth Harbour to provide the country's principal wharf for naval and army guns.  It was the largest in Britain, and virtually doubled in size when more land was reclaimed to the south.  Early in the last century, the site became the HMS Vernon school for torpedoes and mines, and in 1996 it was transformed into Gunwharf Quays, the old wharf being given over to retail and the new wharf becoming a residential area.  As part of the Millennium celebrations, the development was crowned by the building of the Spinnaker Tower.  It was a fascinating story told by someone with an intimate knowledge of the buildings due to his leading role in their recent development.


June 5, The Camden Winding Vaults of the London & Birmingham Railway

We were very pleased to welcome back Bill Fawcett as our speaker to our June meeting to tell us all about "The Camden Winding Vaults of the London & Birmingham Railway", where Bill has been involved in preparing a Conservation Management Plan for Network Rail. A Grade II* Listed Building, this is a very good example of a complete winding engine house, and forms part of a large vaulted underground structure located under the main line railway just north of Fitzroy Bridge where the railway crosses the Regent's Canal.   Designed by Robert Stephenson, the winding engines and associated equipment etc., operated from 1837 - 1844 drawing trains up from Euston to Camden by means of an endless rope to meet a waiting locomotive at the top of the incline.   The equipment is long gone, having been sold in 1847.   The vaults themselves are generally in sound condition, although partially flooded and silted up, having been employed for many years as a reservoir to supply steam locomotives based at Camden engine shed. Although rope haulage enjoyed a long life on some mineral railways, there is little surviving evidence of its use on main-line passenger routes. Thus the Camden vaults are of international importance, given the almost complete survival of a building carefully tailored to house boilers, winding engines, haulage machinery and extensive coal stores, tucked away under the tracks so as to save space.


July 3, Dorset Then and Now from the Air

July's talk was on "Dorset then & now from the air" given by Gordon le Pard.   Although aerial photography had been around for a long time, the first known aerial photograph being taken in 1858 by a French balloonist photographer [Gasper Felix Tournachon] it wasn't until 1946-1947 that the decision was taken to photograph the whole of the British Isles.   In part, this was because at the beginning of the war, the Germans were heavily involved in aerial photography reconnaissance over the British Isles for bombing purposes, as well as preparation for a possible future invasion.    Since then, photographing the British Isles from the air has become a regular exercise, which is carried out about once every ten years.    Apparently one of many surprises that emerged out of this exercise is that we now know that we have more woodland than we did in 1946, because if nothing is done to an area, woodland will flourish.


August 7, The Fire Service

Our speaker in August was Alan House who was Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Hampshire's Fire & Rescue Service before he retired, and is now the Fire & Rescue Service's Historian & Archivist with their own museum at Solent Sky.   He concentrated mainly on the Fire Service's WW2 experiences. Shortly before, in 1938, the organisation was changed out of all recognition from small municipal fire brigades run by local councils or parishes  and numbering between 1400-1500, to the Auxiliary Fire Service, shortly then superseded by the creation of the National Fire Service. Post war, in 1948, the responsibilities were transferred yet again, this time to county councils and boroughs. He also described the changes in equipment from crude virtually non- existent fire-fighting equipment to the sophisticated red fire engines we recognise today. Alan's overview of this particular period was very illuminating and we hope we can persuade him to return and tell us some more about this fascinating subject.


September 4, Steam Engines and Commercial Vehicles:  A Miscellany 

We were pleased to welcome along Bob Smith, a skilled engineer, and member of the Friends of King Alfred Buses [FoKAB] who gave us a very interesting talk on "Steam Engines & Commercial Vehicles" concentrating on the classic lorries he has restored.   These included a 1961 AEC Mercury, a 1951 AEC Matador, and a 1949 Foden, now sold, but all restored to a very high standard and exhibited regularly.   Meticulously catalogued bit by bit, we were able to appreciate the amount of painstaking work involved in restoring these classic vehicles.   


October 2, A Unique china clay works at Small Hanger on Dartmoor

We welcomed Peter Stanier in what has become his regular October slot, and his subject this time was a china clay works at Smallhangar between Dartmoor and Plymouth that was threatened by the rejuvenation of Hemerdon Tungston Mine.  The mine had been the subject of Peter's talk a couple of years ago, but the restarting of mining operations spelt the end of what remained of the china clay works, and Peter was given the opportunity to survey them before these remains were obliterated.


November 6, AGM

November's meeting started with our annual AGM, which was quite well attended and we were through by the tea/coffee break, having re-elected some of the serving officers, but failing to get a volunteer to do the Lecture Programme.   After the tea/coffee break, the Chairman entertained us with a few short DVDs including Twyford Waterworks back in steam at its October's Members Day, Crofton Pumping Station, the Paddle Steamer "Embassy", old pictures of Southampton 1890-1930, Weymouth in the 1930s and the Weymouth Boat Train.   At the end of these short films, the Chairman showed us a short film of his own 4" 'Burrell' Showmans engine that he had fired up in his garden.  Although the meeting closed a bit earlier than usual, it was, nonetheless, an enjoyable evening.


December 4, A Million Dollars of Entertainment

December's talk was given by our President, Bill White and titled "A Million Dollars of Entertainment".    After the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the USA were drawn into the war in Europe and it was soon realised that as the Government were going to send millions of troops abroad, they had to keep  morale up both at home and abroad, and to do that the USO [United Service Organisation] was set up in 1941 on the request from the then President, Franklin D Roosevelt.    Bill's talk covered all aspects of what was involved in entertaining the troops including listening to old recordings from the likes of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, to  talking about the Film Industry and in particular Hollywood, and their Stars, and  the importance of gramophone records and the  radio.    A truly entertaining evening.



January 8, Hampshire's First Pilot

Our first speaker of the New Year was Mike Gibson, who came along on a chilly January night to tell us all about "Hampshire's First Pilot".  This turned out to be an American called Samuel Franklin Cody, or Colonel Cody as he was later known.  Born in 1867 he came to the U.K with his wife Maud touring with his Wild West Show called ForePaugh.   He went onto develop large kites [Cody's War-Kites] then aeroplanes after having been involved in Britain's first airship.   Unfortunately, he died quite young [46] in a plane crash and was buried with full military honours alongside his only son who was killed in Belgium in 1917 serving with the Royal Flying Corps.    Mike also talked to us about the men who were involved in early "Aviation Medical Research", which was equally informative. 


February 5, History of Hydraulics

February's meeting started on a sad note with the announcement of the death of our Vice-President, John Silman, who died at the end of January after being ill for some time.   Our President, Bill White said a few words, including an anecdote or two on the very enjoyable trips he had taken along with John, and other members of HIAS on Edwin Course's numerous, and now legendary,  I.A trips.    The Chairman then introduced our speaker for the evening, Steve Skinner, one of our own members, to tell us all about  the "History of Hydraulics".  Although a huge subject, spanning over 200 years, Steve said it would be "brief & superficial" but nonetheless, his talk was extremely interesting and entertaining.   For a more in depth and comprehensive look at the subject, Steve has written a book on the subject titled "Hydraulic Fluid Power, A Historical Timeline". 


March 5, The Southampton and Salisbury Canal Revisited

After all the bad weather, we had a good turnout for March's HIAS meeting, when we were  very pleased to welcome back one of our old members, and an ex-chairman, Jon Sims.   Jon's talk was titled "The Southampton to Salisbury Canal Revisited".  "Revisited" because Jon had written an article in 1993 for our Journal No 2 on "The Lost Cutting, The Southampton & Salisbury Canal at West Dean", which can be found at http://hias.org.uk/Journal%20scans/HIAS%20Journal%201993.pdf.   There is not much left of the Canal today, but with the aid of Jon's photographs and old O.S maps, we were able to trace the route beginning in Southampton with just the odd clue remaining like place names, and stagnant ditches to show there had been a canal there once.     Unfortunately, the Canal was not a success as too costly, the owners having spent too much money at the beginning of the project on the Southampton end and especially on an expensive tunnel.


April 9, Lucy Houston, the Lady who saved the Nation

We were pleased to have Colin van Geffen back as our speaker for April's meeting.  This time Colin's talk was about "Lucy Houston, the Lady who saved the Nation".    A very wealthy and philanthropic lady, she was immensely patriotic, was married three times, the last one to Sir Robert Houston, a wealthy shipping magnate and 1st Baronet and  MP for West Toxteth.    As Colin said, the main thing about her, was that not many people had heard of her, which was surprising, as after Colin's talk we realised what a remarkable woman she had been.     Amongst many of her achievements, she was made a DBE for her work in setting up a house for WW1 nurses for recuperation, a prominent suffragist, and for financing the Houston-Mount Everest expedition enabling the first aircraft to fly over Mount Everest.    Her main claim to fame though was the £100,000 she gave to Supermarine in 1931 which allowed them to win the Schneider Trophy which, in turn, enabled the development of engine technology which was vital to us in winning in WW2.     She also offered the 1932 Government £200,000 to strengthen the Army & Navy, but they refused.    


May 14, Swaythling Remount Depot - Supplying Horses for war service

May's talk found us close to home in Swaythling, a suburb of Southampton  for a talk on the Swaythling Remount Depot with John Fish, who came along to tell us all about the part that this area of Southampton played in WW1.    Horses were brought to the Swaythling Remount Depot to be made ready to be shipped out to France to assist with the War effort.   It was estimated that about 160,000 horses were needed for the task ahead, as each ammunition cart was pulled by 5-6 horses.   This part of Southampton at the time was uninhabited, and covered a large area, so ideal for the task ahead.   At the end of the War, about the same number, 160,000 horses, were repatriated and returned to their owners, and the site was dismantled in 1920, but took quite a few years to clear.


June 4, The Withered Arm - A Personal Journey

Instead of June's scheduled talk, we were pleased that our Vice-Chairman, Howard Sprenger was able to stand in at the last moment, to talk to us about "The Withered Arm - a Personal Journey".   The "Withered Arm" of the title refers to the ex-Southern Railway Lines west of Exeter, and is a term coined by T W E [Tom] Roche in his book of the same name published in 1967.  Howard said that it was a personal journey for him, as training as a teacher in the early 1970s at St Luke's College, Exeter, he had visited and photographed the lines many times over the last 45 years.


July 2, Women on the Railway

Although it was a very warm evening after a very hot day, we had a good turnout for our July meeting to welcome along Dr Becky Peacock to talk to us about "Women on the Railway", and in particular women's role on the Railway during WW1 & WW2.   Becky works full time for the Watercress Line and is involved at present in the Canadian Pacific 35005 Project restoring this flagship locomotive which was built in 1941 at the Eastleigh Railway Works. 


August 6, The Queen Mary before & after the war

Stephen Hoadley came along to speak to us on a hot evening in August on "The Queen Mary before and after the War".   This turned out to be an extremely interesting and illuminating presentation on one of Britain's greatest sea going liners.  Built by the Cunard-White Line Company it came into service in 1936.   It was named after George V's consort, Queen Mary, by accident apparently and weighed 75,000 tons. Built on the Clyde by John Brown Shipyard it had a magnificent mainly Art Deco interior.    During the war, it served as a troop ship, but with the age of the jet aeroplane looming, it was uneconomic and is now moored permanently in Long Beach, California and converted into a hotel, restaurants, and a museum.


September 3, I.A. Films

Unfortunately, the speaker for our September meeting on "Aspects of Military Archaeology in the Ridgeway Region"  did not turn up.   However, our Chairman, Rob Fish, stepped in with some videos on various I.A subjects.   These included a 33 minute video on I.A in East Anglia looking back a 100 years ago which covered a wide range of I.A subjects including mills, agricultural machinery, maltings, sawmills, brickworks, lime kilns  etc., including some old footage of Adnam's Brewery in Southwold.    We ended up by looking at the restoration work that has been carried out at Phillipsburg Pumping Station in Surrey now in full working order. Unfortunately, they cannot afford to open it to the public yet.


October 1, Northampton not Southampton:  Industrial Heritage around a Midlands County

We were pleased to welcome along Peter Stanier, to our October meeting.   Peter has been coming along in October for some time now and informs me that this is his 12th lecture to HIAS.   Talking on the subject of I.A in Northamptonshire, where he had been in August 2017 attending the 45th AIA Conference at Moulton Agricultural College. This was Peter's guide to the industrial heritage of that county.    It was a varied talk including all sorts I.A topics and an interesting county although not very big and landlocked.    Best known for its shoe making industry, although not what it was. They still have Church's bespoke shoe makers, Doc Martin's and the Tricker Shoe factory, but unfortunately, Hawkins, famous for their walking boots back in the 60s, are no longer there.  Amongst many other I.A interests, it does have the National Lift Tower, standing 418 feet and now a Grade II Listed Building.   We are very sorry that Peter won't be coming to talk to us again, as he now finds driving up from Shaftesbury too onerous now.


November 5, AGM and Film

We started November's meeting with the annual AGM, and afterwards the Chairman showed a YouTube Channel Shed-TV film of single and double decker buses and coaches from all around the country during trips made by the Southern Counties Touring Society, a bus enthusiasts group, in the 1950s and early 1960s.  This included film of Portsmouth, Southampton, and Bournemouth Corporation buses as well as those of local companies Provincial, King Alfred, and Silver Star, with which a lot of our members are very familiar.   The views of vehicles dating from the 1930s to the 1960s, the clothes worn by the enthusiasts (no anoraks -- all jackets and ties or long coats and hats), and all the places visited from the south coast to St Helens and Llandudno provided a splendid nostalgic trip.


December 3  Victorian Humour

It was a festive evening for our  December's talk, the last one of the year, when we were pleased to welcome along Alan Brindle and his "Magic Lantern" to entertain us with "Victorian Humour".  Attired in a velvet frock coat, a colourful waistcoat, and a top hat, Alan set the scene for his slide show.   Using an image projector [Magic Lantern] which was used widely until the mid 20th Century, this was truly pre-cinema entertainment.  As the title said, the slides were mainly humorous, but Alan did include some with I.A content including a mill wheel near Betws y Coed in Wales, the Panama and Caledonian Canals, a Midland train and a train shed in Penzance etc.,    A very entertaining evening. 



           January 7th, The Royal Navy's Coastal Forces

Our first talk of the New Year was on Monday January 7th. We were very pleased to welcome back Stephen Fisher who had given us a talk, about two year's ago, on Wrecks in the Solent.   This time Stephen's talk was about the Royal Navy Coastal Force's in WW2 affectionately known as the Royal Navy's "Little Ships" and "Spitfires of the Sea".   Accompanied by excellent photos and maps, Stephen's talk was both informative and comprehensive, and is a great pity that the story of this remarkable part of the war effort is not more widely known.


February 4th, The Burrell Build

 Our Chairman, Rob Fish, spoke to us at February's meeting on "The Burrell Build - final instalment".  Rob started this project 8 years ago, and the last update to the group was in 2014.    The 4" 1925 replica of a Burrell Scenic Traction Engine was purchased in kit form from Steam Traction World in Daventry, but they were originally manufactured by Charles Burrell & Sons in Thetford, Norfolk.    Each photograph Rob showed us was accompanied by a detailed explanation as to what we were looking at and the progress made.    It was virtually finished last August in time for the Dorset Steam Rally, where Rob spent the week, and he is now looking forward to starting a new project - a 4" Burrell steam roller.   

Before Rob's talk, our President, Bill White, paid tribute to two of our long standing members who have sadly died since Christmas.  They were Sylvia Bayley, a SUIAG/HIAS member for many years, as well as a staunch member of the Twyford Waterworks Trust, and Tony Yoward, also a long standing member of SUIAG/HIAS and a past Chairman.  Tony was also President of the Hampshire Mills Group, and their archivist.


March 4, The Great Western Railway - a personal journey

Our speaker for March was our Vice Chairman, Howard Sprenger, and his talk was titled "The Great Western Railway - a personal journey".   This was really the second part of Howard's talk last June on "The Withered Arm - a personal journey".    Howard took us on a journey beginning in Tiverton, Devon and ending in Penzance, Cornwall.    This fascinating journey was accompanied by photographs of not only the stations etc., on the main route, but also of the branch lines, some still there, but many now gone, but fortunately some are now heritage railway lines run by railway enthusiasts. 


April 1, Trolleybus Technology - the early days

Our April speaker was John Stainforth who came along to talk to us about "Trolleybus Technology - the early days".  A trolleybus is powered by mains electricity which is collected from special overhead wiring by two poles on the roof of a trolleybus [originally the name was trackless].  They have rubber tyres and run on normal roads, and consequently one of the most environmentally friendly mode of transport to have been invented. The Trolleybus Museum in Sandtoft, North Lincolnshire boasts the largest collection of historic trolleybuses in the world and are about to celebrate their 50th anniversary. They have commissioned the construction of a full size working replica of a pre-WW1 trolleybus from the Czech Republic, which they hope will be in situ in June, so well worth a visit. 


May 13, Along the Portsmouth Direct Railway [Portsmouth & Petersfield]

May's meeting was later than usual owing to Easter and the early May Bank Holiday.  Nevertheless, we had a good turn-out to listen to Peter Keat talking to us about "Along the Portsmouth Direct Railway".   Peter's talk consisted of a miscellany of images and dates from the late 1800s onwards mainly of Portsmouth Harbour, Gosport, Hayling Island and Havant train lines.  Also included were images of  railway engines, ships and buildings, plus three short films.    He would have liked to talk more about the line from Portsmouth to Petersfield as advertised, but this would have taken too long for the time available.


June 3, The Panama Canal

Jon Sims came along to June's meeting to talk to us about "The Panama Canal - sea to shining sea".  Jon said he felt a bit of a fraud as his photographs were really his holiday snaps of when Bev and himself went on a cruise from Southampton to San Francisco via the Panama Canal on P&O's MV Arcadia.     Nevertheless, his photos were excellent giving those of us who have never been through the Panama Canal a good insight into how the three flights of locks operate, and the sheer amount of traffic which passes now through and means that they are in constant use.     Jon also gave us a brief history of how the Canal came about. It was started by the French and finished by the Americans and since 1999 owned and managed by the Panama Canal Society.     We learned about the enormous mortality rate suffered by the workers in the early days of construction through yellow fever, malaria, and other causes such as venomous snakes, insects and spiders encountered when clearing the rain forests.   He also showed photographs of the bridges spanning the Canal including the latest road bridge called the Atlantic Bridge, and as the ship left the Canal, a distant view of Panama City with its huge skyscrapers.


July 1, The development of the fastenings from their beginnings to becoming an everyday technology

Anthony Poulton-Smith came along to our July meeting to talk to us about "The development of the fastenings from their beginnings to becoming an everyday technology".   A retired engineer who has now turned his hand to writing, Anthony began his talk telling us about the root of some of the words for fastenings such as screws, nuts, bolts, rivets, washers etc.   Also many of these words used today derive from French and Latin, the word "nail" seems to have been around since the 1600s.  We also looked at the many manufacturers of fastenings mainly based in the Midlands, as Anthony said,  the "Midlands were riddled with screw manufacturers".   Fasteners of one sort or another, are something we all cannot live without, as they hold everything together like phones, televisions, washing machines, clocks and power stations etc.


August 5, Metalliferous Mining in the Channel Islands

Unfortunately, our August speaker, Terri Robinson, was unwell so unable to talk to us about "A look at Canal History – including its people and their art".  This talk has now been re- scheduled for July 2020.  We were therefore delighted when our Vice Chairman, Howard Sprenger, was able to step in at short notice and give us a talk on "Metalliferous Mining in the Channel Islands".  Howard explained that this talk was the one he gave to the 2015 SERIAC Conference, but had been updated.    The Channel Islands are not noted for their industrial past, but even the smallest had mills and quarries, albeit usually for local use only.  However, in the middle of the 19th Century, deposits of copper, lead and silver were discovered, and there was great speculation in metalliferous mining on all of the islands, except Alderney.   None of the enterprises were successful, and most closed within a few short years.  Piecing together the story of the mines is difficult because of their brief lives, but over the years much information has been gathered together by local enthusiasts and others on the mainland.  This talk told the story of various ventures, illustrated by maps, plans and photographs of the surviving remains where they can be found.  It was based on several field visits to the islands and examination of contemporary records.


September 2, The Flying Scotsman

Our speaker for our September meeting was Stephen Hoadley who came along to tell us all about the history of the "Flying Scotsman" the train that ran daily from London's King's Cross to Edinburgh's Waverley Station. This is the iconic steam train from 1920s and now restored and preserved  it is still pulling excursions around the country.    Stephen described its chequered history from its luxurious beginnings, when few people could afford to go on it, to a must today for railway enthusiasts. Fortunately, there were enough people out there with money and enthusiasm to preserve what is undoubtedly one of the U.K.'s "National Treasures". 


October 7, Underground Tunneling used by both sides in WW1

Peter Jones came along to October's meeting to talk to us about "Underground Tunneling by both sides in WW1".  Peter's talk gave us an insight into the tactics of underground warfare and the awful conditions in which the war underground was fought.   The idea of digging underneath fortifications is nothing new and goes back to at least classical times, but the use of high explosives in WW1 gave it a new dimension.  Fighting in WW1 was dominated by trench warfare, and these trenches were dug by hand, and stretched right across Northern France, being both German and British trenches.  The sites of the tunnels that are being excavated today, are an example of the complete evolution of trench warfare.   The horror of being blown up by an unseen mine was an everyday fear of frontline troops, but because of these brave men, and the work they carried out under such appalling conditions, the British were able to take the initiative against the Germans.